My Ex-Spouse Stopped Paying Their Spousal Support. What Can I Do?

Posted by William Bly | May 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

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The court awarded you spousal support for a reason: You deserved it. As if going through the pain of your divorce wasn't difficult enough, now your ex-spouse has complicated things further by refusing to pay his or her court-ordered spousal support. You rely upon that money. It's part of your much-needed income. What can you do? Fortunately, Maine has laws in place that protect the recipients of spousal support, and you do have recourse to get the money your ex-spouse owes you.

Review Your Court Order

Before you take action, take a moment to review the final court order and any addendums. Be certain that your ex-spouse remains legally obligated to remit spousal support payments to you. There is usually a time limit placed on spousal support in Maine (generally, no longer than half the length of the marriage), and you'll want to make certain that your ex-spouse's obligation hasn't expired prior to filing a “Motion to Enforce.”

Negotiate an Agreement

Your next step should be to try to work out an agreement for the resumption of payments directly with your ex-spouse. This might seem as if it's odd advice, but if you two can come to a resolution without getting the courts involved, you'll both benefit. Discuss the matter with your ex in an effort to ascertain why he or she stopped making their spousal support payments. If it's only a temporary setback, perhaps modifying your agreement will resolve the matter. If your spouse is, or remains, uncooperative, however, you will be able to demonstrate to the court that you made a good-faith effort in resolving this issue independently.

File a Motion to Enforce

Chances are if your ex-spouse stopped fulfilling his or her legal obligation, you won't get very far in trying to collect your monies owed outside of court. If working this out between yourselves failed, it's time to file your Motion to Enforce. To do so:

•       Head to your district's courthouse and obtain a Motion to Enforce forms packet from the District Clerk. You can also download the paperwork online.

•       Fill out the paperwork, providing the details from your original court-ordered judgment, the monies owed, and your efforts for resolving the matter directly with your ex-spouse.

•       Makes copies of all of your paperwork and formally serve your ex-spouse with the motion. The paperwork will provide the instructions on how to do this properly.

•       Take the completed paperwork and proof of service to the court where your original judgment was rendered, file the motion and pay the court fees.

•       Your ex-spouse will have 20 days to file an official response to your motion, so you will have to wait, at the very least, 20 days before the court will assign a mediator or hear your case.

•       Depending on your ex-spouse's response, the court will either send it to mediation or hear your case. Should you win, a judgment will be entered against your ex-spouse and he or she will be required to continue to pay spousal support and/or remit any back allowance.

If, after all of that, your ex-spouse still refuses to pay his or her court-ordered judgment, do not fret. Title 19-A, Section 2603 of Maine Statute is very clear that the state may take any and all reasonable action to enforce a family law court-ordered judgment. This includes, but is not limited to, ordering installment payments to fulfill the judgment; levying the judgment amount, either through property attachment or wage garnishment; ordering direct payment out of your ex-spouse's paycheck from his or her employer; or other means, such as civil action or bond enforcement.

The court awarded you spousal support for a reason, and you shouldn't have to endure the stress and aggravation of not receiving your scheduled payments. The Law Office of William T. Bly has spent well over a decade focusing on helping clients navigate through tough situations such as this. We understand the complexities of Maine's family law and the process of enforcing family law judgments.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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